Mussina, Ventura power Yankees past Orioles


BALTIMORE (AP) -- For three innings, the Baltimore Orioles
thought they had a decent chance to beat Mike Mussina.

Then Robin Ventura hit a three-run homer, and the Orioles' hopes
dropped as sharply as a Mussina curveball.

Mussina pitched seven shutout innings and Ventura delivered his
second straight go-ahead homer as the New York Yankees beat
Baltimore 4-1 Thursday night.

Rookie Nick Johnson also homered for the Yankees, who won twice
at Camden Yards after losing the season opener.

"To come back and win the last two and win the series is
important," Mussina said. "We have a chance to go home and see if
we can keep the momentum going."

Ventura, obtained in a December trade with the New York Mets,
hit an 0-2 pitch from Sidney Ponson (0-1) over the center field
wall to put the Yankees up 3-0 in the fourth.

The shot deflated the Orioles, who knew it would be extremely
difficult to make up the deficit against a pitcher of Mussina's

"That's the first time all year I sensed a letdown," Baltimore
manager Mike Hargrove said. "We didn't quit, but the energy level
dropped a little bit."

Ventura's homer proved to be more than enough offense for
Mussina (1-0), who improved to 4-1 against his former team. The
right-hander allowed four hits, struck out three and walked one.

"You're always happy when you can throw this way this early in
the season, especially when it's as chilly as it was out there,"
Mussina said.

Mike Stanton pitched the eighth. Jay Tessmer started the ninth,
but left after a pair of walks.

Mariano Rivera gave up an RBI single to Melvin Mora before
getting the last two outs for his second save.

The Orioles threatened early against Mussina but came away
empty. After getting Mike Bordick to foul out with two outs and the
bases loaded in the second, Mussina retired David Segui and Jeff
Conine with a runner on third in the third inning.

"It's tough to score on Moose. He gave us a couple of
opportunities but we couldn't take advantage," Bordick said. "He
constantly mixed up his pitches, and threw all of them for strikes.
Moose was right on top of his game. ... He's just a great

New York pounced on Ponson in the fourth. Jason Giambi led off
with a single and Jorge Posada hit a two-out single before Ventura
followed with his 250th career homer.

"I'm looking for anything close, really," Ventura said. "He
left it a little bit more over the plate than he wanted to. I just
hit it square on the bat."

Mussina has been around long enough to know the impact of such a
hit, given that the Orioles had just come so close to breaking on

"It's kind of deflating, having been on the other side of that
when you think you have a chance to score and you don't. Then the
other team comes right back and gets you," Mussina said.

Ventura provided New York with its lone run Wednesday with his
first home run as a Yankee.

"He knows what he's doing," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
"He doesn't panic. Even when he gets behind in the count he knows
what he wants to do."

Johnson made it 4-0, leading off the fifth with his third career

Ponson, who yielded 21 homers in 23 starts last year, allowed
four runs and seven hits in six innings. He's 0-5 with a 5.94 ERA
in his last eight starts against the Yankees.

"Sidney pitched well enough," Hargrove said. "He just picked
a bad time to miss his spot. Sidney is a power pitcher, and when a
power pitcher makes a mistake with a fastball, that has a tendency
to happen."

Game notes
New York opens its home schedule Friday afternoon against
Tampa Bay. The Yankees have won nine of their last 10 home openers.
... Chris Brock made his Orioles debut, following Ponson with two
shutout innings. ... Giambi, playing DH after starting his first
two games with New York at first base, went 1-for-3 and is 2-for-11
with the Yankees. ... Conine, who hit .311 last year, is at .100
after an 0-for-4 night.